Sunday, 24 July 2011

Fred Fowle 'The Master' Fairground Artist

This is the wonderful painter 'The Master' Fred Fowle. Years ago I kept seeing a particular style of painting at all the fairs and I loved it...It was always signed by Fred Fowle. At college I mentioned Fred's name to one of my tutors Mike McInnery, I was as pleased as punch when he said that he had met Fred, that Fred was still about and that he could give me Fred's telephone number and address! I wrote to him and got a reply saying that I would be welcome if I thought it was worth it.

The original letter that Fred sent to me that kicked everything off for me.
I visited Fred and found him very friendly and approachable, and it was definitely a very rewarding visit. He was happy to explain in detail how to do the painting techniques and answer all my questions. I tried to visit as often as I could and was lucky to meet Mark Gill another fabulous painter now working in Australia, I believe...he had a very cheeky and contagious smile. I also met Roger Vinney a champion woodgrainer and cartoonist..he had a woodgrained fridge in his kitchen along with grained glass milk bottles! I wrote my degree thesis all about Fred.
They were all a total inspiration to me and  that is why I do what I do now.

George Codona's Waltzer..Side of a waltzer car being decorated by Fred Fowle.

Self portrait of Roger Vinney from a Ghost Ride.

Gypsy Lee boards in background painted by Mark Gill..At least I'm pretty sure they were his.

A daft thing happened due to the top Black and White photograph. One day I noticed it being used on a fairground website, I was pleased and surprised and asked if they could just add a caption saying that I had taken the photograph...well talk about a misunderstanding another ladies name was mentioned and they said that they would remove it completely because of goodness knows what...very silly so I thought I would share it with everyone again plus some other pictures because Fred was 'MAGIC' and I was extremely privileged to meet him and see him at work.
An interesting website with photographs of the completed waltzercan be found at

Gypsy Petulengro travelling through Lancashire.

A few days ago I delivered a restored clock dial to a lovely couple in Cheltenham. Previously we had chattered about car boot sales, he said he'd look out for gypsy things for me and I'd look out for fishing flies for him.He had mentioned this to his wife so this time she handed me an envelope with a couple of photos showing Gypsy Petulengro and his family travelling through Hindley, near Wigan , Lancashire.Her father Mr Harry Gregory a fruit and Veg Merchant regularly lent his horse 'Tommy' to the family to help them move.
The wagon's are both different and aren't the usual you get to expect. The top one looks like either a Brayshaw or a Thomas, I can't be sure ..I'll be talking to Peter Ingram and John Pocket.
The Brayshaw business started in Lancashire in 1882 and they built farm wagons and repaired vehicles for Gypsies and Showfolk. The rail vans were very heavy and could be the lower photo. The early ones were built for horse drawing but later made for traction. After WW1 heavy duty lorries were bought from the government and converted into trailers. They were 26ft long and had rounded corners and often had round windows. Thomas Wagons from Chertsey Surrey also had round windows. Apparently the last wagon they built was in 1939 for a Mrs Swallow. It cost £850 ,when locally new semi detached houses cost £350 !
Out of interest Petul in Romany means Horseshoe so Petulengro means Blacksmith. Please look at for more information.
I have copies of ' Romany Herbal remedies and recipes, The open road to Health' by Gypsy Petulengro books for sale , limited number but I'm hoping to have a payal page very soon.keep looking !

Monday, 11 July 2011

Snow and Balloons

At the weekend I was lucky enough to go to a wonderful Party. It was hosted by Darcey an old friend who runs Snowbusiness. We had snowball fights, stood around snow tables complete with penguin, and had trips up in a tethered balloon....fantastic. Funny thing is that Darcey really loves heat ! I remember years ago going to a Christmas party in the middle of the summer. Personally I would love to visit the Ice Hotel in Iceland, quite amazing. I also met an old friend from the mid 80's John Alderslade. We both worked at Relic Antiques when it was at Brillscote Farm, Lea near Malmesbury. John is a great childrens entertainer, magician and Punch and Judy Man. telephone 07757471447 The Mr Cameron was there, a very pleasant chap, only turns out that my younger sister knows his daughter !. Well I won't go into too many details I'll just add photos.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

St Kenelms Day again !

The year seems to be flying, not helped tonight by it starting to go dark before 9 o'clock ! It's just a minor blip there 's lots more sun to come. This weekend is The Medieval Battle at Tewkesbury. The site opens at eleven . There is a charge for car parking but the event is free but they do ask for donations. Have a look at their website Years ago I was asked by a friend who played fiddle Pat Heslop if I fancied playing some music at a do in Tewkesbury and if I did I should be in fancy dress. Well we turned up to find the field full of people in Medieval costume...well I wore a flapper dress and Pat wore top hat and tails ! I don't think we could have looked dafter !
It is on all weekend but the St. Kenelm play will be performed near the beer tent at around eleven.
Sunday 17th is St Kenelms Day and the play will start at St Kenelms Well , up Sudeley Hill and to the left. At 3.30pm there will be a well blessing then the play should start approximately at 3.45pm.There isn't any car parking I'm afraid but cars can be left in the car park by the Visitor Centre at Sudeley Castle. The play is in three acts and is performed by Winchcombe people. After St Kenelms well there is a walk down to Sudeley for the second act then another walk to St Peters Church for the final act. Refreshments are available at The visitor centre and at the end at St Peters Church, Winchcombe. For more details please call Winchcombe tourist Information Centre 01242 602925. See you there !

Lovely Jane from The Winds of Change Gallery with Griff Rhys ... on Twitpic

Lovely Jane from The Winds of Change Gallery with Griff Rhys ... on Twitpic

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Griff Rhys Jones at Sudeley Castle

Early on Friday morning, my mate Jane from Winds of Change Gallery, Jean Bray (sudeley's historian and all round lovely lady) and myself went up to the castle to make sound effects for a Tudor meal. It wasn't long before we found that we were going to be on film and we were staying in the clothes we had arrived in. Not even enough time to look in a mirror ! You'll have to see the programme next May to see what it was all about but basically Griff Rhys Jones and a Historian called Alison (sorry can't remember her surname but she has worked on telly programmes before) talked about what it would have been like if we had all been at the meal hosted by Sudeley Castle for Elizabeth 1. We had a great time and lots of laughs. Griff Rhys Jones was a very lovely chap and was asking all about us and Winchcombe ..he was also very knowledgeable on the subject.
I'll try and write a brief history now.. Thomas Seymour owned Sudeley Castle and Katherine Parr married and lived with him there in the same year that Henry V111 died.. They had been in love before then Henry V111 decided that he wanted her first. Elizabeth came to Sudeley to live after her father died. Katherine Parr was already pregnant and ended up sending Elizabeth away because Thomas Seymour had been flirting with Elizabeth and 'had passed the bands of propriety'. Unfortunately Katherine died a few days after giving birth to a daughter called Mary. Her funeral, the first royal protestant funeral was at Sudeley and her chief mourner was Lady Jane Grey. A few years later Thomas Seymour was executed 1549 after being indicted on 33 counts of treason and other misdemeanors against the king and Crown.
Above is a painting I did of the ruined banqueting hall and The Queens Garden.
Above me in the process of painting rooms and mural showing the arrival of Henry V111 and Anne Boleyn at Sudeley Castle.
The Queens Garden at Sudeley is named after the four Queens who have walked there, Queen Katherine Parr, Queen Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth 1. There are also two Kings buried in Winchcombe of a much older date, King Kenulf and Saint Kenelm.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Last weekend I took a a group of boys to the WW2 Camp at Ashdown near Badsey, Worcestershire for their Wartime in the Vale Weekend....great but So hot! Later in the afternoon when the boys really wanted to go home I found myself saying we have to wait. So under umbrellas we waited for the flypast of The Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire. Unfortunately the Lancaster had engine problems so no flypast, I was really disappointed!
I'm not an anorak as far as aeroplanes but I love being in the air. Years ago I spent some time in Sweden with a group of people that were working out there. Most go an early flight back to England on the previous day so they could watch the Robins play football in Cheltenham. The next day we arrived to find that Concorde had been put on our flight !!!! I think it was the first time that it had been allowed to land in Sweden so there were thousands of people, army, TV crews etc. We all had to walk across the tarmac to Concorde and climb the steps...somewhere there must be some photos or film of it but I've never seen any. Once we were flying a Stewardess announced that if anyone wanted they could go into the cockpit with the pilots. Would you believe it I was the only one that went everyone else were all in suits and acted as if they travelled on Concorde everyday...daft beggars ! a chance of a lifetime. must visit Filton one day maybe the Concorde I flew on is there.

It,s amazing the way you just don't know whats waiting around the corner, amazing opportunities,events and new Friends can be there waiting for least that's what I think.


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